School's out and twelve lazy weeks stretch out in front of you and your children... weeks waiting to be filled with fun activities. What's on your agenda? Hiking? Kayaking? Barbequing in the backyard? Swimming? A road trip? Reading? Reading!
Good reading skills are crucial to school success, and summer can endanger those skills. Children spend their first three years of school learning to read and the years after that reading to learn. Teachers keep children reading during the school year. However, summer vacation throws many of these children off track. While kids do need time to unwind and be outside, when they fail to read over the summer, children can lose as much as three months of reading achievement. When a child fails to read summer after summer, the effects cumulate, and by sixth grade that child could be as much as two years behind his/her peers.
So, how can you keep your child reading?
ENCOURAGE YOUR CHILD
- Find a series. Series books allow kids to practice targeted reading. Because she comes to know the main character and/or setting, your child can skim parts of the text that repeat information she already knows, while slowing to more closely read the parts of the story that are unique to the individual title.
- Relax with a magazine. Magazines allow readers quick snippets of reading concentrated topics they are interested in. Boys' Life, American Girl, Zoo Books... the library has a nice collection of kids' magazines, and they can be checked out.
- Choose nonfiction. If your child has a difficult time finding stories he enjoys, try nonfiction. Not every child loves fiction. Nonfiction about subjects he's interested in may keep him reading.
- Enjoy comic books. Comic books often have very high vocabulary, and kids can understand that vocabulary because it's in context... and they are lots of fun!
- Ask a librarian for recommendations! We know about great older books and awesome new titles.
CREATE A READING CULTURE
- Schedule reading into the day. Bedtime at 8? Allow your child to stay up an extra fifteen minutes to read in bed. Or have a post-dinner "reading date" where everyone curls up in the living room... with their own books.
- Read yourself. Children need to see that reading is a lifelong activity that their parents enjoy. Talk about the books you enjoy.
- Read aloud. When you read great books aloud to your older child, you reinforce vocabulary, introduce complex themes, and perform a reading commercial.
- Read together. Get two copies of the same title and discuss the book as you read it.
- Connect reading to your summer. Going to Yellowstone? Read a story about camping or learn about geysers. Or do it the other way, and after your child finishes a story, seek out real-life experiences from that story. Just finished Charlotte's Web? Visit a farm!
ENROLL IN SUMMER READING
- Pick up a reading log and use the above suggestions to keep him reading. Every time he finishes ten hours of reading, he'll earn a prize and an entry into a drawing. Click here for more detailed information.
- Attend lots of fun activities! We have building days, craft days, storytimes, STEM programs, music programs, and lots more scheduled. Check out our calendar here.
- Check out great books!
A runner runs. A swimmer swims. A baker bakes. A gardener gardens. And a reader reads. Enjoy your summer, visit us at the library, and encourage your child to remain a reader (or become one, if they are still learning to read).
Suzanne Davis, Children's Librarian